Is There Bias in Mobile Phone Radiation Studies?

The All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) has said mobile phone research may be compromised by the funding of the studies.

Mobile phone use is booming in India, and all around the world. With a huge and growing population research is desperately needed to understand the full effect of mobile phone radiation – and how it can be avoided. But not all research is equal.

The study by AIIMS shows a clear difference in the findings of research on mobile phone radiation depending on who has funded the research. It might surprise most of us that research is regularly funded by interested parties. It seems like a conflict of interest but is true in all different industries and telecoms is no different.

AIIMS looked at 22 different studies from around the world to compare the findings and how they were funded. There were three categories – government funded, mobile phone industry funded and mixed government-phone industry funding. Each study was assigned a quality score based on the methodology involved, including being free from bias.

It’s not surprising that while the government funded research came out with higher – better – quality scores of an average of 8, the industry and mixed studies scored 5 or 6. Plus the scientists found that government funded studies were more likely to show harm was being done, but the others emphasised protection.

This sort of bias is not the only problem when it comes to evaluating research on mobile phone radiation. Most research uses the example of an adult male and safety standards are matched to this example too. But there are more women and children around than adult men, so how mobile phone radiation might affect them is less clear and could be very different.

For example, the “safe” amount of radiation for a phone to give off is decided by how far into the brain this radiation passes. But the same distance for an adult head is a completely different proportion of a child’s head.

There is also the difficulty of finding long term information on a technology that has only been around for a few decades. In its present form the real blanketing of mobile networks and wifi has only been around for ten years or so. What harm might be caused in the long term?

Clearly more and better quality research is needed – large scale, long term, unbiased studies. You don’t have to wait for the government or the mobile phone industry to protect you though. WaveWall has a range of anti-radiation mobile phone cases to shield you from mobile phone radiation, as well as the innovative Airtube headphone replacements that stop radiation from passing to your head.

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